Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Endpoint - Indianapolis, IN 1995

Endpoint was one of the first bands that really informed my early development into hardcore music.  The music, lyrics and general approach that the band took was something that I related to from the start.

I stumbled upon this video that has some of my favorite Endpoint tracks and comes very close to properly translating what it must have been like to see this band at the prime of their existence.

A trip down memory lane for sure.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Xaphan - 2012 Demo

Xaphan is ex members of a handful of 90's hardcore bands (Disembodied, Threadbare, 108 and others) who have gotten together to do something heavy and intense. 

Musically, we get a nice package of down-tuned, aggressive hardcore that seems to do a nice dance between time signatures including, but not limited to, sludge, blast beats and some mid tempo double bass moshy goodness. Proficient drumming provides a nice backbone while the the angry, blunt vocals rage over top.

I'm getting the impression that this was recorded in two separate sessions, as some of the songs seem to be a little uneven with the vocals being way above the music.  By the third song this all clears up and you get a nice healthy balance, but goes back to a little uneven by the fourth.  

Check it out here.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Nurture - In The Middle of Everything

Nuture is from Athens, Georgia.  They have a sound that's not too common these days, but it's pulled off oh so well.

This seems to remind me very much some of the early to mid 90's bands like Elements of Need, Sleepy Time Trio and Lincoln.  You can also hear a bit of influence from more modern bands like Apart or Pianos Become the Teeth, particularly in the vocal presentation. The rhythms are pretty mid tempo with discordant guitars and screamed vocals that allow for some harsher melody.

There's not a low point among these four songs.  This is a consistent and well executed batch that seems to nail a perfect feeling and mood onto tape.

Check it out here

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Trophy Lungs - Demo 2012

Trophy Lungs is from Boston, Massachusetts and play a catchy form of pop punk that doesn't come off nasily or annoying.  There's some great melodic hooks here that can definitely get stuck in your head.  The transitions are pulled off really well and present some really nice flow.  My faith in pop punk has been restored!

At times I get a Dillinger Four meets Polar Bear Club vibe here.  The production is a bit rough which I think works well, as too clean of production would make this sound a little sterile.  The dual vocals, when done, are pretty superb.  The bass has a nice shiny tone and sits well in the mix with the high gain guitars. 

This is some good stuff right here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

- الشعب يريد إسقاط النظام‎ Old Lines-

Old Lines features ex-members of Pulling Teeth and Ruiner, but quite honestly deliver something that I think fits my liking more than either of those bands.  It's a raw, heavy assault of dirty, fast hardcore that features heavily distorted guitars, pounding drums and growled vocals.

The production quality here is powerful and translates a huge sound that is quite fitting for this style of music.  Unfortunately there are no lyrics on the bandcamp page, which is one thing that I'm interested in checking out.

These are seven songs full of natural transitions and extremely heavy atmosphere.  Check it out here

Monday, January 14, 2013

Abuse - .

A clever title to this 6 song EP.  From Orlando, Florida, Abuse plays a nice mix of technical chaos mixed with some straight forward melody.  There's a good amount of variation here that can even include some nice metallic thrash and growled vocals. The band seems to reach from a vast pot for their influences, however string everything together in a fluid and flowing manner. 

The production quality has just enough rawness to it to translate a hard hitting sound, while still clear enough to make out all the interesting musicianship. 

Have a listen here

Holiness Church of the Valley - Not of the Flock

Holiness Church of the Valley is from Alabama and start you off with a bright burst of energy that keeps up a fast pace until breaking down into a furious crawl.  There are 5 songs here that all carry on this same dynamic and for the most part it's done quite well.

My issue here is mainly with the recording mix.  The vocals are laced with reverb which can make things a little messy at times and you don't really get a full impact of the scream. 

Everything about the band (lyrics, art, etc) seem to carry christian religious imagery.  Though, it's hard to know where the band stands on the issue or how they feel about it. Perhaps the ambigiousness is their focus. 

Some good tunes here. Have a listen here

Circle Takes the Square - Decompositions Volume 1

It looks like this record is about the see the light of day to the surprise of many. About 6 years ago I caught them playing live at a show where they debuted "Enter By the Narrow Gates", which makes me think the songwriting for this has been going on for some time now. I'm not sure of the nature of the slow process behind the songwriting and production here. 

The band's last record (if you can remember that far back), "As the Roots Undo" was a canvas of long songs which infused elements of technical metal, chaotic hardcore, enunciated vocals along with some influence of chanting at times. "Decompositions" seems to stay the same course, perhaps with a little less chaos and a heavier lean towards the prog rock neighborhood of musicianship.

I'll admit to feeling a bit overwhelmed as a listener by the barrage of unlimited parts and time changes that are getting thrown at me on any given track. Some of the time changes seem a little rough going at times. Perhaps this is just a symptom of the first listen.  The songs seem to flow right into each other mostly, with no pauses, which (on songs of this length) can rob the listener of recognizing the finality of one piece to another.  The production quality here also seems a little unbalanced as it heavily favors the vocals which sometimes out weigh the instrumentation a bit too much. Regardless, there is some very impressive playing on this record. 

Lyrically you get the abstract prose that the band became known for in the early 2000's.  They still maintain the trade off between male and female vocals that create a call/response dynamic at times, while at other times reinforcing each others melodies.

I'm going to give this a few more listens and see if it gels. North Star, Inverted is the one track that really takes a detour from the band's standard fair with it's totally melodic and happy cadence. The interesting thing about Circle Takes the Square is that they do have a very unique sound.  You can put on any track and you know it's them. I have to give them credit for being able to distinguish themselves with such contrast.

Have a listen here 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Grower - s/t

Grower is a pissed off hardcore band from Philadelphia that has a rough around the edges sound.  The production quality here is sort of minimal, but at the same time it adds a bit of charm to the sound that they have. 

There's nothing new or innovative here but the execution and lyrics have an honesty to them that comes across as genuine and without any premeditation.  Lyrical content here is expressing disgust at a myriad of subjects such as sexism and religion. 

You'll get all the regulars here: two step parts, fast hardcore, a couple blast beats, a couple breakdowns, etc.  It's all wrapped up in a nice package with songs that flow quite well.

The waltz tempo of "Hallowed" changes things up for a bit, but doesn't sacrifice any intensity.  I'd be interested to see how this goes over in a live setting.

Check it out here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Secret Arms - New Colonies

Secret Arms is from Miami, Florida.  They play a brand of hardcore that seems to rest somewhere between influences such as On The Might of Princes and Bullets In.  The production quality is pretty powerful here.  Some may not like the vocals sitting beneath the music, but here it seems to translate a nice power of the music.

You're in for a long ride here, as most of the songs in this collection break the four minute mark.  There's some very interesting melody within these songs and the vocals have a nice range between screaming and singing.  There are tempo changes all across the board and I must admit to liking when this band really plays on the upbeat (see "Thieves" for the best example of this).

You can't shake a stick at the musicianship here as all three of these guys seems to demonstrate a good knowledge of how to get around their respective instruments.  I wish the songs were a bit shorter at times, but I imagine in a live setting it most likely has a pretty powerful execution. 

Have a listen here.